When it is essential to keep everyone updated with the tasks or activities you are currently working on, a report can be an effective tool to use. Although it can be a tedious task to write a report, it helps in disseminating information to other people.
Since a report is a good document to use to update on progress and share other information to an audience, having the skill to make one is essential. Whether in business or the academe, knowing how to make a good report can make all the difference.
In order for your report to be effective you must provide the answers to the questions your audience will have about the topic. Thus, it is important for you to know what are the essential elements of a report and understand how you can incorporate it into your own. To help you with that, here are the essential elements of a report:
1. Letter of Transmittal: Unless a report has a cover, the letter of transmittal is the first thing the reader sees in a report. It introduces the purpose and content of the report to the principal reader or requester. It reminds the person when the request was made along with the details of the said request. You may also see business reports.
2. Title Page: The title page bears the title of the report. It is expected that the title page has more white space than text/print of which is aligned and balanced on the page. It includes the title of the report, name of the principal reader, name of the writer, and date of submission. This block of information is centered on the page with the title in bold letters.
3. Abstract: The abstract of a report usually has no more than 200 words which summarizes the entire document. It is usually directed to readers who are already familiar with the technical subject to help them know if they need to read the full report.You may also see investigation report examples.
4. Table of Contents: The table of contents chronologically lists the contents of the report. This element is essential in a report because it helps readers find the information that they need. It is also essential to differentiate the major topics from the minor ones to avoid confusion, and it is also extremely important to indicate what specific page number such topics/information can be found.
5. List of Illustrations: If you have used illustrations such as a chart, graph, table, etc. to further explain and present the data you have gathered and used in your report, you should allot a different page to list down the titles of these illustrations along with their respective page number.
6. Executive Summary: The executive summary is basically the condensation of the overall content of the report. It is important to include an executive summary for readers who do not need or want a deep or detailed understanding of what is happening. It is a short summary of the whole report; it simplifies the topics discussed to make it more understandable to readers.
7. Introduction and Sections: The main body of the report is divided into different sections in order to comprehensively discuss the topic. It is usually divided into a purpose statement, a problem statement and a scope statement. Each section begins with a topic sentence that explains the purpose of the section.
8. Glossary and List of Symbols: The glossary is an alphabetical list of definitions. It is a useful element of a report especially when you are addressing a wide variety of audiences. It helps them understand some terms that were used in the report for effective communication.
9. References: If you have used outside sources for your report, you should list them in the reference page. There are various of formats used to organize the references such as the MLA, APA, and Chicago style format. How you arrange the references will depend on the format you follow, but technical reports usually follow a numbering system which means the first entry should be the first reference to appear on the report then so on.
10. Appendix: At the end of the report, share information that are too bulky to convey in the body of the report. The main purpose of separating the appendix or appendices is to keep the report brief. Maps, large technical diagrams or charts, computations, computer printouts, test data, and texts of supporting documents are usually found in the appendix section.
A report can help you share the information you have gathered to the intended audience. It’s an effective tool to use if you want to collectively inform those involved about the developments, progress, results, etc. about what you are working on. Thus, it is essential that you know how to make a report that will effectively communicate such. Here is an easy guide you can follow on how you can write a report:
1. Know the purpose of the report: Before you start plotting your report and gathering data, you should first know and understand the purpose of the report. What will it be used for? What issues/problems are you trying to solve/address? Are you trying to describe, explain, recommend, or persuade? This will make it easier for you to develop the content of your report.
2. Understand what the audience wants: Although you know and understand the purpose and objective of your report you still need to consider what you audience needs or wants to see. If you know who your audience, what their field of expertise is, and so on you will be able to tailor your report to their preference. Understanding your audience means you can adapt your style, format, language, etc. to help them easily and clearly understand your report.
3. Gather data and information: You have to gather the data and information that supports your claims and points in the report. Depending on what you aim to achieve with your report, presenting strong, hard facts will always help you achieve your goal. You should provide charts, graphs, analyses, etc. to always drive your point home; you can also cite other credible sources, if necessary.
4. Draft and outline the report: Once you have already gathered the data and information that you need, proceed to drafting the outline of the report. Doing this will allow you to check if you were able to provide what is needed for your report and see if you have incorporated all the essential elements. This will also allow you to analyze whether you were able to convey your message effectively or not.
5. Proofread and edit accordingly: After creating your draft, you can immediately proceed to applying your final touches. Proofreading and allowing your colleagues to read the report before presentation allows you to get an honest opinion from others to help you edit your report more effectively.
Report writing can be a daunting task to do; however, if you already know the purpose of the report and what objective you’re trying to achieve, you can easily tailor what you write to fit your needs. Since you now know the basics of writing a good report, here are some additional tips you can refer to:
There are various types of reports that are suitable for the purpose it will be used for. It is important to know what type of report will best suit your purpose so that you can effectively meet your objective. Hence, here is a list of the different types of reports:
1. Formal or Informal Reports: Formal reports are typically used in a business setting; these reports are carefully structured with a formal language and tone. On the other hand, informal reports are reports that use casual language. Generally, it is brief and direct and can be delivered in email or memo format.
2. Short or Long Reports: The only difference between these two documents is their length. A one-page memorandum is essentially a short report, but a long report can only be determined by specific standards.
3. Informational or Analytical Reports: Annual reports, monthly financial reports, etc. are informational reports since they present detailed objectives about certain topics. Whereas, scientific research, feasibility reports, and real-estate appraisals are analytical reports that attempt to solve an issue/problem.
4. Vertical or Lateral Reports: These types of reports describe the direction a report travels. Vertical reports focuses on the upward or downward hierarchy, while lateral reports travel between the same units of organizational level.
5. Internal or External Reports: Simply put, internal reports are only shared and presented within the organization, while external reports are distributed outside the organization.
6. Periodical Reports: When reports are prepared and presented on regularly-scheduled dates, they are called periodical reports. These reports have a standardized format and are basically used for management control.
7. Functional Reports: Functional reports are reports that take their designation from the ultimate use of the report. Accounting reports, marketing reports, financial reports, and almost all other reports are examples for this type of report.
And there you have it! Create professional reports today with the help of the templates and examples provided.